Monthly Archives: January 2015

Book Review: Under Enemy Colors by Sean Thomas Russell

I gave this a good 30 pages or so before I stopped. It started out well on the ship but once it moved to land to take up the life of the main character, it slowed quite a bit. The first activites of the main chacter were interesting enough but then it settled into a parlor and his fascination with a particular woman. The dialog did me in. It was a gabby kind of dialog intended to reveal the backstories of the main character and what I assumed would be his love interest. It is in my mind a very weak way to introduce backstory. It also was overdone, went on too long, etc. So I stopped reading. I was looking forward to this work very much as it had been recommended to me and I am interested in nautical novels in this historic timeframe but it wasn’t written in a style that I could tolerate.
1 star.


#1 Top Tip for Authors Approaching Agents & Publishers

My #1 top tip for authors who are approaching agents and publishers is:
Present yourself as a professional author.
That means a one-page query letter (sometimes 1.5 pages but that’s unusual).
And, for nonfiction, a book proposal with sample chapters.
For fiction, authors should create a two-page (single-spaced) synopsis and a half-page or 1 page biography at a minimum. Also consider generating a two-page (single-spaced) marketing opportunities sheet. This should provide ideas that you have for marketing the book yourself, all things that can be done while the publisher markets to bookstores.

Job at Disney for Author

Walt Disney Resorts in Orlando is hiring an Executive Communications Intern. You will be responsible for various forms of written communication, maintaining and updating information related to executive speeches and appearances, and other forms of communication. Full details here.

New MBS Publisher

HarperCollins has launched HarperElixer, an imprint that will publish about 20 mind-body-spirit titles every year. Although the imprint will offer print and digital versions, it does have plans to produce digital-only titles in the future.
This is a great opportunity to break through with traditional publishers. Call Writer’s Resource for help with your book proposal, query letter, or to take your draft manuscript to the next level.

Book Review: Correcting the Landscape by Marjorie Kowalski Cole

I thought this book was better than many of the one- and two-star reader reviews note. It is about a man’s struggle to find himself, really, and to find his own heart. All of the other things that were used to market this book–the touches of native culture and lifeways, the environmental issues, and even the death of the woman–all feed back into this primary concern.
I feel this utilization of these various threads to enhance and expand the character and to both position him for a change and to push him to accept the change are the mark of a good writer. The prose in this book is slightly more than servicable…it doesn’t exactly sing but it does have its own voice, and that voice is enjoyable enough. I read this quickly and enjoyed it.
3 stars.
Want to read more fiction with Native American lifeways threaded through the narrative? Check out the free release of Break the Bow by Laine Cunningham on Wattpad.

Jobs at Literary Publisher for Authors

Anaphora Literary Press is seeking three interns. One will write a book review every week plus possibly get some editorial credits; the second is a design intern for artwork; the third is a marketing intern.
None of the positions pay but they could be a good entry point into publishing for authors who want to make connections.
Full listing here.
Contact Anna Faktorovich,Director

Why Indie Authors Should Set Higher Prices

Indie authors have been cashing in on low-priced books for a long time. It makes sense; traditional publishers have been slow to come down on their prices, and readers who want to consume more titles naturally turned to the lower-priced options that spark their interest.
Lately, however, this has been changing. Publishers have finally begun selling directly to consumers. For decades they (like other producers) have not sold directly because they needed to support bookstores. Selling direct cut out the middleman, and bookstores would have suffered.
Then came the chain stores and Amazon. For a time, publishers didn’t suffer much because the bigger retailers were able to move more titles than the small shops.
Indie authors cashed in because there was an untapped market: readers who, because they read so much, needed lower prices in order to fuel their desires.
Now, however, ebooks in general and direct-to-reader sales are changing the sales landscape. Without the middleman, publishers can offer discounts more in line with the standard price points indie authors set for their books. And readers find that they can locate quality projects much more quickly using a traditional publisher than by sifting through unknown indie authors’ offerings.
My advice for indies is to keep your books in line with traditional price points. Go with $3.99 as a sale price for smaller sales, and save the $0.99 sale price for big moves or less frequent specials. Have a retail price between $6.99 and $9.99. This signals the quality in your book, and will help direct readers back to your titles.

Book Review: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind

A very dark read and yet you have these moments where you really feel for the main character. He’s not a nice guy but consider the situation under which he grew up and how terribly he was treated. Then, just at the time when you’re feeling compassion, the author kicks in something to remind you how bad a person he really is. And when you’re starting to feel a high ick factor from being in his head, you suddenly read something that enhances your sympathy.
Exceptionally well done all the way through, including with the plot. The end was very different than what I expected, and a masterful performance. I will be looking for more novels by this author. A fantastic read!
5 stars!
Feel like more dark fiction with a unique plot? Try He Drinks Poison.

Book Review: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Really enjoyed this one. It’s a rare find; I don’t care for hard science fiction but the classics I have always enjoyed. So having this author pointed out to me was fantastic.
The story is compelling. Lots of ideas about insiders/outsiders according to cultural and social norms and conventions…very timely for today’s world.
5 stars!

Books Outsell Movies

Every year, it seems, we hear that books and other media forms are competing against each other. That might be true but in this race, books win.
Within the media sector, books are the largest content creation category. For 2014, revenue generated from books was $151 billion, while movies created $135 billion. These numbers track only titles from traditional publishers and indie books with ISBNs, so the actual gap is significantly higher.
Keep writing. People want to read your books…and they want to read more than they want to watch movies.

Book Review: Thank Earth You by Armand Daigle

I read this novel in one great big semi-hallucinatory gulp. What a ride!
I can’t encapsulate the story better than the description has, so I won’t try. Instead I’ll focus on what was so interesting about this work.
This follows a man who not only seeks an escape route but who finds it. The drudgery of the workaday world, the annoyances of coworkers, and the feeling that there must be something more are going to be familiar to a lot of people in many different professions. It really doesn’t matter if the character is an engineer or a fast-food worker…the point is that he’s wondering if this is all there is to life.
Then answer, as he discovers, is no. Through spiritual quests and moments of complete awareness, his consciousness launches into that eternal now that provides so much enlightenment. At many points in the novel, I had to wonder if this really was a novel. The scenes he describes while he’s visiting that celestial dimension are so vivid that I felt surely they must be based on the author’s real experiences.
This is not a simple read, despite the fact that I jammed through it in a day. It will challenge readers who aren’t prepared to follow the character into that other realm of light and enlightenment. I call the experience semi-hallucinatory for a reason…and that is clearly one of the reasons to read this book. If you’ve quested before or are interested in what it’s like to have these powerful experiences, read this book. The author takes you there…and yet at the end, he deposits you safely back in your seat.
5 stars!
Interested in fiction that delves into the metaphysical? Try Message Stick, winner of two national awards, and He Drinks Poison, short-listed for several national prizes.

Numbers that Matter from Nielson’s Children’s Book Summit

Nielson’s 2014 summit offered statistics gathered for the previous 4 years in children’s/YA publishing. In addition to posting growth all those years, the categories that performed the best were YA and middle-grade books (also called chapter books).
2014 was reported to be the “best year ever” for the C/YA category. Last year, 17 of the 20 top-performing books were C/YA. A full 35% of the market for physical books is in this category for US sales.

Book Review: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

This work wasn’t as compelling as the first book of his that I read. Too much dialog that was really lectures on the state of the world at the time. It would have been better if that information had been conveyed by the inner thoughts of some of the characters. However, I made a lot of exceptions as I went along for the standards and expectations applied to works written during this particular time period and so didn’t find those elements off-putting.
Another thing I wasn’t happy with was the attempts at humor. They were simply too dated to be pleasurable. However, again, I made allowances for that and moved on to the next narrative portion when those cropped up.
Overall, an enjoyable read. Not a particularly satisfying ending but well handled in terms of the society in which the author lived and the time period in which this was written. I would recommend this both as a cultural study and a solid story.
4 stars!